Therapy, therapy, therapy

Ok, I’m qualified – how do I know I’m ready for Private Practice?

Yesterday I talked about how, if you’re a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist, now could be the right time to start in private practice.
And I shared that anxiety and lack of confidence are universal barriers to starting in private practice. And that’s not entertaining self-sabotage or imposter syndrome . . . . .
The guidance given by training bodies is often vague – for example, it may day – with sufficient experience you can also begin working as independent practitioners in private practice.
What is sufficient experience – and how do we get it.
Over the years I’ve worked with many therapists who are starting up in private practice. And I realised that there are 4 elements to ‘sufficient experience’ and perhaps they weren’t the obvious ones.
I believe that if you have the 4 elements in place, you can start ethically and safely in private practice.

A quick diversion about qualifications.

🤔 As I said yesterday, counselling and psychotherapy in the UK is an unprotected title and so anyone can call themselves a counsellor, set up a website and Facebook page and see clients.

Providing they don’t claim a qualification they haven’t got, or a membership they don’t have – what they do is perfectly legal . . .

Unless you are an Art psychotherapist, Art therapist, Dramatherapist or Music therapist – which are HCPC* protected titles.

                                                                                    *Health & Care Professions Council
I think we can consider private practice once we have a relevant qualification of at least 400 level 4 (Diploma) training hours and at least 100 client hours.
OK, let’s get back to the 4 elements:
The first element – personal therapy
I learned as much about being a counsellor through my own therapy as through my taught and client hours.
OK, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration – you get my meaning.
I think that we are ready for Private Practice when we’ve had at least 100 hours of personal therapy.
When we’re training, I’m not always sure we get the most benefit from our therapy. We are so busy, fitting in classes with placement, supervision oh probably another job and family.
It does feel sometimes like an add-on, a tick box to be got through,
Many of us came into counselling because we had experienced therapy.
I see students who have had personal therapy before their training, and as a tutor I do think it shows – in their self-awareness for example.
An ancient way of assessing competence was the Guilds, Goldsmith for example, where we would start as an apprentice, via journeyman, through craftsperson and master or mistress craftsperson. And this progression was based on time served. Seven years as an apprentice and so on.
This is still relevant, as practicing a skill is what helps us become more proficient. Get the techniques into our subconscious.
I think that as well as our client placements, every personal therapy session we have is a practise too. Whether in our consciousness or not, we are watching/absorbing our therapist and learning – what works well and what we could do differently.
Experiencing a variety of therapy modes and methods is great learning too. During our training we may be restricted to therapetic model, or need to stay with one therapist. As soon as possible, I do invite colleagues to have other therapeutic experiences.
Before now, how many of us experienced online therapy? I did skills practice and some client work as part of my online training. I was the ‘client’ for colleagues on the course. Then in March my therapy was moved online – what a wake-up call and amazingly useful, if uncomfortable, experience.
Therapy taken before our training would count for my 100 hours, and I think we need to continue personal therapy for at least the first year of our Independent practice. After that, as we need, for our self-care and client-care.
Once we’ve become a more mature therapist, I don’t think we need to be in permanent therapy. Which might be a controversial view . . .
I discuss with my Supervisor when I think therapy could be helpful and my Supervisor will gently suggest to me, if I’ve got a blind spot.
Which all contribute to making a safe, independent counsellor.

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